Friday, June 18, 2004

Semper Reformandum?

I spent some of last night reading Martin Luther's To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, which is one of Luther's major early treatises (1520) setting out his arguments with the Roman church.

What struck me most was the nature of his complaints. This treatise is not particularly theological, but is concerned about the abuse of power and the role of money that undergirds the Roman church. Luther complains that the 'Romanists' "have no right to interpret Scripture merely by authority and without learning [skill]". There then follows a tirade against the way in which the Roman church makes money through the sale of indulgences, positions and so on. The way in which money-making has been incorporated into the church is the root of much of the corruption of the church as Luther sees it.

The reason this struck me was not because of a historical outrage over the state of the Roman church, but because I can see so many parallels in the contemporary Church of England. Scripture continues to be interpreted merely by authority, without reasoned argument. Money-making continues to corrupt the mission of the church. And the two combine to diabolical effect.

Luther still has much to teach our reformed church.

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